WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today joined their colleagues in urging Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to include the cancellation of student loan payments and debt in the COVID-19 stimulus package. The Senators asked for the Department of Education to take over monthly payments during this crisis and to forgive at least $10,000 in loan debt, which will help boost the economy in New Jersey and across the nation.

"Students and families should not have to worry that they will go into default on their student loans during or immediately after this emergency--they should be worried about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. "Student loan debt in this country is already crushing for many and without immediate and bold relief, it will prevent people from fully participating in our economy."

The lawmakers made the following four asks of negotiators:

  • Immediate monthly payment relief for student loan borrowers: Authorize the Department of Education to immediately take over the monthly payments of federal student loan borrowers during this public health emergency.
  • Across the board student loan debt cancellation: Cancel at least $10,000 of student debt for all borrowers to help jumpstart our economy and make a significant difference for American families.
  • Shield borrowers from involuntary collections and offsets during this public health crisis: Shield all student loan borrowers from any federal offsets that can prevent them from receiving critical benefits and supports, such as the seizure or garnishment of wages, federal salaries, Social Security Benefits, and federal income tax returns like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
  • Exempt forgiven debt from being taxed: As borrowers struggle to deal with the economic consequences of the current public health crisis, Congress must ensure that forgiven student loan debt can truly be used to stimulate the economy and does not result in hidden tax liability. A tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service only creates more unaffordable debt, potentially putting borrowers in a higher tax bracket, at a time when families and businesses across the country are struggling to stay afloat.

“These provisions would provide much-needed relief to federal student loan borrowers through the duration of this crisis, and provide a long-term economic stimulus to help see the country through this crisis,” the lawmakers wrote.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) also signed the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Click the links for a full list of Sen. Menendez’s and Sen. Booker’s actions to protect New Jersey families during the COVID-19 outbreak.